By David Fong
MIAMI COUNTY — It all comes down to this.
With all due respect to all of the dual meets, invitationals and tournaments that have taken place since early December, the moment for which all high school wrestlers throughout the state of Ohio have been working for all season has finally arrived. For three days in Columbus, wrestlers will be able to determine their lasting legacies at the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament.
Sixteen Miami County wrestlers — five from Troy Christian, four each from Miami East and Covington and one apiece from Tippecanoe, Milton-Union and Bethel — will be appearing at this year’s state tournament, which begins Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Here’s a look at who will be representing Miami County, and who they will be facing in the opening rounds:
• Caleb Blake (145 pounds) — Blake (27-6 this season), a senior, will face Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy senior Justin West (27-13) in the opening round. Blake is competing in a loaded weight class; six of the 16 wrestlers are returning state placers, including Graham’s Mitch Moore, a three-time state champion.
• Graham Shore (120 pounds) — Shore will be making his fourth trip to state, having previously placed seventh as a freshman and third as both a sophomore and junior. Shore (49-1) will open against Apple Creek Waynedale’s Storm Stanley (42-12). A potential finals match looms against Genoa Area’s Julian Sanchez (45-2), who defeated Shore in the semifinals last year.
• Kaleb Nickels (126 pounds) — Nickels, a sophomore, was a state qualifier last year. Nickels (42-12) will open the tournament against Swanton senior Trevor Schaller (34-7). There are five returning state placers in this weight class, including three-time state champion Tommy Hoskins of Legacy Christian Academy.
• Alex Isbrandt (138 pounds) — Isbrandt also a four-time state qualifier and three-time state placer, having placed seventh as a freshman and sophomore and second last year. Isbrandt (54-1) will face Nelsonville York senior Brian Heller (31-11) in the first round. The only other returning state placer at this weight is Troy Christian’s Jared Ford, whom Isbrandt has wrestled four times this season.
• Brenden Dalton (220 pounds) — Dalton, a junior, is making his first trip to the state meet. Dalton (45-5) will open the tournament against West Jefferson junior Hunter Braithwaite (39-13).
• Ethan Turner (113 pounds) — Turner, a sophomore, placed third at state last season at 106 pounds. Turner (28-3) will face Coschocton’s Austin Guthrie (42-5) in the opening round. Genoa Area’s Oscar Sanchez — the state champion at 106 last season — is in the other half of the bracket.
• Jacob Edwards (132 pounds) — Edwards is a four-time state qualifier and two-time state placer, having finished second as a sophomore and third last season. Edwards (43-1) will face Brooklyn senior Andrew Zarins (38-8) in the first round. In the other half of the bracket is Genoa Area junior Dylan D’Emilio, a two-time state champion. He defeated Edwards two years ago for one of those state titles.
• Jared Ford (138 pounds) —Ford, a senior, placed fifth at state last season. He’s 40-4 this season. He will open the tournament against Caldwell sophomore Collin Wiley (39-10). A match against Miami East’s Isbrandt — it would be their fifth this season — in the finals seems likely.
• Craig Montgomery (170 pounds) — Montgomery, a sophomore, will be making his first trip to state. Montgomery (20-5) will face Tuscarawas Valley senior Jackson Dunn (38-3) in the first round.
• Damon Beatty (182 pounds) — Beatty, a senior, was a state qualifier last year. Beatty (34-9) will face Apple Creek Waynedale senior Logan Stanley (56-0) in the first round. Stanley placed third at 170 pounds last year.
• Kellan Anderson (106 pounds) — Anderson has qualified for state as a freshman. Anderson (46-7) will open the tournament against Delaware Christian School freshman Josh Proper (30-9).
• Cael Vanderhorst (113 pounds) — Vanderhorst, a freshman, follows in the footsteps of his father Eric, the team’s coach and himself a state qualifier at Covington. Vanderhorst (48-5) will face Barnesville senior Brayden Reynolds (36-8) in the first round.
• Keringten Martin (152 pounds) — Martin, a junior, is making his first trip to the state tournament. Martin (42-9) will open the tournament against Swanton senior Chase Moore (48-2), a two-time state placer.
• Gage Kerrigan (195 pounds) — Kerrigan, a sophomore, is making his first trip to the state meet. Kerrigan (23-5) will open the tournament against Bloomdale Elmwood senior Dylan Hinton (45-2).
• Kellen Calhoun (170 pounds) — Calhoun, a senior, is the lone wrestler on Bethel’s team and the first in school history to advance to the state tournament. Calhoun (30-6) will open the tournament against Martins Ferry sophomore Richard McFarland (28-15).
• Dylan Schenck (145 pounds) — Schenck, a junior, will be making his first trip to the state meet. Shenck (33-7) will face Archbold senior Gavin Grime (53-1) in the first round. Grime placed eighth at 132 pounds last year.
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